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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Jacob And Rachel

Jacob continued on his long journey. He walked across the river Jordan in a shallow place, feeling his way with his staff. He climbed mountains and journeyed beside the great desert on the east, and at last came to the city of Haran. Beside the city was the well, where Abraham's servant had met Jacob's mother, Rebekah. Jacob waited for some time and saw a young woman coming with her sheep to give them water.



He removed the flat stone that was over the mouth of the well, and drew water and gave it to the sheep. He found out that this young woman was his own cousin Rachel, the daughter of Laban, he was so glad that he wept for joy. And at that moment he began to love Rachel, and longed to have her for his wife.



Rachel's father, Laban, Jacob's uncle, welcomed Jacob, and took him into his home. Jacob asked Laban if he would give his daughter, Rachel, to him as his wife. He said, "If you give me Rachel, I will work for you seven years." Laban said, "It is better that you should have her, than that a stranger should marry her."

So Jacob lived seven years in Laban's house, caring for his sheep and oxen and camels; but his love for Rachel made the time seem short. The day came for the marriage and they brought in the bride, who, after the manner of that land, was covered with a thick veil, so that her face could not be seen. And she was married to Jacob, and when Jacob lifted up her veil he found that he had married, not Rachel, but her older sister, Leah, who was not beautiful, and whom Jacob did not love at all.

Jacob was very angry that he had been deceived, though that was just the way in which Jacob himself had deceived his father and cheated his brother Esau. But his uncle Laban said, "In our land we never allow the younger daughter to be married before the older daughter. Keep Leah for your wife, and work for me seven years longer, and you shall have Rachel also."

In those times, men often had two wives, or even more than two. So Jacob stayed seven years more, fourteen years in all, before he received Rachel as his wife. While Jacob was living at Haran, eleven sons were born to him. But only one of these was the child of Rachel, whom Jacob loved. This son was Joseph, who was dearer to Jacob than any other of his children, partly because he was the youngest, and because he was the child of his beloved Rachel.

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